Viral TikTok 'Distress Signal' Saves Abducted Girl From 61-year-old Alleged Abuser

A hand gesture viral on TikTok as 'Distress Signal' saved a teen girl from her alleged abductor after someone recognized it and alerted the authorities.

A 16-year-old girl, who was reported missing by her family in Asheville, North Carolina, on Tuesday, November 2 was rescued in Kentucky after she flashed the viral TikTok 'distress signal' to a passing motorist. The victim, whose identity is not known at the moment, made the hand gesture while she was at a traffic stop on Interstate 75 in southern Kentucky Thursday, November 4 afternoon, according to Fox 8 news. She was in the passenger seat of a Toyota Camry driven by her alleged abductor. The hand gesture supposedly signified that she was in danger and needed help.

A motorist saw the signal, followed the Camry, and alerted the authorities. The alleged abductor was identified as James Herbert Brick, 61, of Cherokee, North Carolina. According to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office, a photo of the girl engaged in sexual acts was found on Brick's phone.

James Herbert Brick
James Herbert Brick Laurel County Sheriff

Viral TikTok distress signal

Laurel County Sheriff's Office stated that the hand gesture, which is popular on TikTok as the 'distress signal' is a fist enclosed across the thumb placed in front of the palm. It "represents violence at home - I need help - domestic violence." The SOS became popular on TikTok during the global shutdown as a way for people who couldn't speak openly to let someone know they were in apparent danger at home.

'The girl feared for her life'

Laurel County Deputy Gilbert Acciardo informed that the teen, who was reported missing by her family, willingly went with Bricks initially, but after some time, she "started fearing for her life," Acciardo said according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. After being rescued, the girl told the investigators that Brick took her to Ohio, but left after when his relatives found out that the girl was a minor and had been reported missing.

"It was learned through investigation that the female passenger was a reported missing juvenile – reported by her parents on Tuesday morning missing from Asheville, North Carolina. A check through NCIC confirmed that she was a reported missing person," Laurel County Sheriff's office said.

Brick is currently being held Brick is currently at the Laurel County Correctional Center. He was charged with kidnapping and possession of child pornography.